For its fourth episode, Survivor: Africa seems to be hitting a comfortable rhythm. Odd-numbered episodes equal conflict, tension; even-numbered ones equal soothing release and predictability. Like the beating of the heart of Mother Africa, lub-DUB, lub-DUB. Oops, did we say Mother Africa? That was the last episode's Linda. This time, there are several Lindas, all inhabiting one head, as far as we can tell.
We open, as we are prone to do, in the last episode. Because, to be honest, the majority of the action in each show occurs in the camp of the tribe that has just returned from Tribal Council. How can this valuable night-vision footage possibly be wasted? Anyway, this time it's compelling, because it serves to contrast the moody, over-the-top antics of the borderline psychotic Lindsey, seen teetering on the brink of abject lunacy on the night of Day 9, with the moody, over-the-top antics of the borderline psychotic Linda, who is seen teetering on the brink of abject lunacy on the morning of Day 10. See the shocking, amazing difference? It's totally night and day!
Anyway, the point of these two sequences is to give us more insight into both the powerful dynamics of the Samburu tribe and the complex characters of Lindsey and Linda. Especially Linda, since she needs some screen time beyond simple confessionals. Samburu, we learn through thirty minutes of painstaking exposition, apparently directed at those people who watched Friends last week, but are inexplicably not doing so this time, is a tribe divided. See, this wasn't immediately obvious from the marathon voting session on the previous episode, or the three weeks of bickering and sniping we've been subjected to. Linda, we learn, is none too fond of Lindsey. Who knew? Lindsey, it seems, has a twig to pick with those fossils who dared cast votes against her: "I guessed right on two out of three true-false questions, beating the average by a full half a question! So don't mess with me, goddammit!"
Yes, Samburu was the best of tribes, it was the worst of tribes. The AllRats fondle each other in front of the remaining oldies, causing looks of consternation to flit across the elders' wizened faces. Linda asks Teresa, "I thought we already took all the ecstacy hits out of the first aid kit - have those thieving little runts been hoarding a secret stash again?" Frank merely looks disgruntled, and wanders off to find a pot to sabotage. Lindsey shares her deep thoughts with everyone in Africa, about how she is one badass motherfucker, and despite an inordinate amount of crying, is a force to be reckoned with. Brandon stifles a snicker, then, thinking about food again, eats the remaining Samburu food supply.
Next, we move, of course, to Boran for (what else) some comic relief. This week, the characters of Clarence and Tom are being lifted from old Warner Brothers cartoons. Tom is, of course, the retarded hunting dog: "Duh, hey Clarence, which way did the food go?" Clarence points up a tree. Tom scurries up, forgetting that (1) he weighs about 800 pounds, (2) trees are tall, and (3) the laws of gravity still apply, even in Africa. He makes pretty good progress, until he commits the cardinal cartoon sin of stopping in midair, feeling the air below his feet, then looking down. With a pitiful, resigned wave to the camera, Tom comes crashing back to Earth. Tom 'n' Clay then try blowing the tree up with an Acme Explosives Kit, building an Acme Jet Pack to run up the tree, and tending the garden that the producers gave them. (Admittedly, some of this seems to have ended up on the cutting room floor, at least for broadcast purposes, but we're pretty sure you can still fork over a Jackson to CBS to possibly watch it on their extremely user-friendly Insider pay service, assuming your system is configured exactly the way Real Media wants it to be). Eventually, they settle on throwing rocks at the palm dates, which after Clarence nearly hacks off his hand opening one, they then throw away
Now it's back to Samburu, where it's Linda Fucks With the AllRats Day (LFWARD). The newly-empowered AllRats finally get their beauty sleep, but are still grumpy when Linda wakes them up to condescendingly remind them that they have a challenge that morning. She bows and scrapes in mock obeisance to Queen Lindsey, allowing her highness to read the happy proclamation: The producers want Brandon to have more food to steal. Suddenly, the AllRats are all aflutter, and Silas gathers his happy subjects for a sincere, heartwarming, unifying pep talk, which he thinks he saw on one of the Mighty Ducks movies, possibly the second one. Sure the sound was off, and he was drinking at the time, but he thinks he got the gist of it. On bended knee, he begins his masterful, cohesive speech, then looks up to see Linda completely flipping out. In a part finger-puppet show, part game of charades, part game of tag, Linda flits around the campsite like a butterfly whose wing Silas has just set on fire with a magnifying glass. As Silas nods gravely at Frank to fetch the tranquilizer darts, Linda suddenly starts hugging everyone, especially Lindsey, who resumes bawling. Linda then respects Lindsey's space by hugging her again. Silas leans back and admires the outcome of a motivational speech well done.
Remarkably, Samburu carries this team spirit on to the RC, where they flit over nets to retrieve baskets of food, especially Brandon, who just seems to levitate toward anything remotely edible. It helps that Samburu is not saddled with Tom, who releases some amusing grunts, or MamaKim, who makes up for her lack of speed by moving more slowly. Boran is sad, but support MamaKim for unknown reasons, since that would reveal too much of the storyline. Except Clarence, of course, who reminds us that women are only good for making him food. Or at least giving him an excuse to get some food himself. Later the AllRats show us their kinder, gentler way of taking care of camp chores: exactly the same way the elders did it, except Silas orders them around, instead of Frank. Oh, and Frank and Teresa still have to do some heavy lifting.
Crammed up against this is the immunity challenge, in which the Survivors completely recreate the nomadic lifestyles of native peoples, by moving houses that look nothing like the ones the native tribes live in, in manners the tribes would not use, over a distance no tribe would bother moving (200 feet). But it gives Boran another chance to win, as Brandon again bravely volunteers not to help with what looks like sweaty work, possibly in an area infested with bugs, and Lindsey gets a chance to throw another fit. Somehow shocked that tiny KimP would put them at a disadvantage versus the burly Boran movers, Lindsey slams her house corner down in disgust, as the undermanned Samburus watch Boran race past them to victory. Boran spends a happy day bonding with each other as a tribe, and appreciating nature, which means of course that they're headed to Tribal Council next week.
This gives us an opportunity to revisit the happy, happy, happy Samburu camp. Since there's still twenty minutes left on the show, and the only suspense is whether the AllRats boot angry, rude, antagonistic Linda or invisible Teresa, Mark Burnett opts to play up the "mystery" by having Teresa actually speak on camera, asking the AllRats who they are planning to boot. This is, as the producer has instructed them to say on camera, a huge secret. After this scene, which is played over and over again for comedic effect, Silas hatches a brilliant plan. This time, he tries another surefire motivational speech, this one from another Disney movie he saw, "Brer Rabbit and the Briar Patch." Okay, he was stoned at the time, and he's not really sure how it ended, but he thinks it went something like: "Look you old farts, I'm going to win, and you're not. It's too bad, but those are the breaks. Now, since I'm already thinking of ways to spend the million bucks, please, whatever you do, don't vote for me at Tribal Council. Because that would suck, and did I mention that I'd like to buy both a Porsche and a Mercedes right away? Or that my dad is a successful dentist? Wait, where was I going with this? Oh yeah, don't vote for me, I order you."
And, in a breathtaking turn of events, sure to be unrivaled even by the immensely shocking "twist" in episode 5 next week, the AllRats vote Linda, and the old folks vote Silas, aka "Chip". This was, of course, heavily foreshadowed by lengthy scenes of Frank carving his family's names into his torch, on his birthday, sniffling about how he played the game right. But we digress. We now close with Linda's parting message to America's youth: "And I would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for those meddling kids." How true, Linda, how true.